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I get a lot of questions about how I get so much done in a day, not only on this blog, but among my family and friends around me each day. I have been asked so much, I thought I would try to formulate some thoughts on the topic and post it. First, here are some things that I do that I think contribute to being efficient:
- Just Do It: I really have a just do it attitude. When I try to do something slowly or ease myself in, it seems to take longer and be harder. For example, when I was in my early years of college, I wanted to improve in my journal writing. I wanted to eventually be writing every day. At first I tried once a week and then working up from there. That just didn’t work. I told myself to just do it, so I did. I wrote every day, even if there was nothing to say other than, “Nothing big to mention today.”
- Make and Keep a Habit: Whatever it is you are trying to do, make it a habit and keep it that way. The reason I wrote every day, even just to say basically nothing, was to maintain that habit in my life.
- Make Lists: I make lists. I make a list of everything I want to get done from large scales down to daily tasks.
- Manageable Goals: Make sure your lists and goals are manageable for you. There is no point in setting yourself up for failure. When you are successful, you can feel good about what you did and feel motivated for the next day. If you have a large goal, break it up into small goals. For example, I sew a lot. I have made all of the curtains, pillows, bedding, Halloween costumes, many clothes, etc. in our home. A recent project I did was my master bedroom. I made a list of all the things I wanted to make for the room, then broke those down into small goals. Looking at a goal of making a pillow is a lot less over-whelming than an entire bedroom set. If you over-whelm yourself, you are less likely to stick to the task.
- Be Realistic: Acknowledge and accept your limitations. When I have a newborn, I get significantly less done in the day than when my children are older. Recognize your limitations. There is a season for all things. Life is never stagnant. Do what you can when you can, but don’t beat yourself up for things you just can’t get done at the time. I know that when my baby is born, I will not be able to do as much with this blog. Because of this, I am writing posts well into the future. While this particular post is scheduled for March 13, I am actually writing it February 18. I have every Thursday written into June. I am hoping that when my baby is born, I will have at least two solid months of posts written. Then I don’t have to worry about it at a time that I know will be hard to fit it in, and I should then also be able to answer comments. I know to both write posts and answer questions would be more than I could do for at least a month, so I am doing what I can while I can.
- Plan it Out: Think through what you are doing from start to finish. This way, you can be sure to have all supplies on hand. If you have to run to the store 5 times to complete one project, that isn’t a very efficient use of your time. This can be applied down to the smallest cleaning project. When I am going to clean something, I take the time to think through everything I need so I am not walking back and forth over and over. It seems small, but every moment counts, especially when you have young children.
- Dirty Work First: I always do the jobs I know I don’t enjoy as much first. Each day, I do some cleaning. I also do some blogging at least five days of the week. I enjoy blogging more than cleaning. I am sure to get my cleaning done first. Then I don’t lose myself in the Internet and not get my other things done. But, in my third trimester, I have found that I have to modify this. I can’t just clean for hours. I have to clean for a bit, sit for a bit, clean for a bit. I have to put time limitations on my Internet time so I can give my body the rest it needs.
- Don’t Procrastinate: I know some people find they work well under pressure. My husband is one who thrives on procrastination. I used to be a procrastinator. In high school, I spent many all-nighters getting homework done. I finally decided it was not the best way to be. All through college, I never pulled an all-nighter. I was an English major with many papers to write. My emphasis was technical writing, which required a lot of projects. My minor was communications where I performed study after study and also wrote a lot of papers. I was in the presidency of several clubs and organizations; I rarely had a night that did not have some activity planned. But I always had my work completed with plenty of time to do several reviews of it before turning it in. I graduated named the most outstanding senior. Procrastination does not produce the best results you can give.
- Prioritize: Prioritize your tasks. Some things need to be completed sooner than others. Some can wait. Some can be scratched all-together if you need to.
- Put the Lord First: This is something that I think is the biggest contributor to what I can get done in a day. I am sure to say my prayers in the morning. I also read my scriptures each morning before I do anything else. I have found that when you put the Lord first and do what He has asked you to do before other things, everything else comes easier and is faster. If you are religious, give it a try.
- Multi-task: Whenever possible, I multi-task.
Those are some general tips. Now for a glimpse at my life to see how I fit everything in.
This is probably one of the most noticeable difficulties once you have a baby. It is harder to find the time to clean. As baby gets older, baby contributes to the mess in the house, causing more to clean. There is a more laundry with each additional person. It is all just harder. Here are things I do to make it all easier:
- Presentable: Something I try to do is keep my house in a position that if someone were to walk into it I would not be embarrassed. Granted, some days are better than others. Certain times of day are better than others. But this is what I strive for. This also helps me to look at things through fresh eyes so I don’t over-look clutter (I hate clutter 🙂 ).
- Let Things Go: Evaluate the time you have and what you can realistically get done at the moment. I am one who loves everything to be clean and spotless. I have come to accept that just isn’t possible in my current state. Everything has a season. My house is not as clean as I would like it, but I just have to realize the day will come when it can be.
- Daily Task: I have a task for each day of the week. This really isn’t my favorite way to do cleaning. I love the feeling of the entire house after it has been cleaned in one day. But doing it this way is a lot more manageable for me. Here is my schedule so you get an idea:
Daily: Each day, there are certain things that must be done. I make my bed in the morning. I do the dishes each day (my husband helps). My husband and I pick up the house after the kids go to bed each night. I help the kids clean up their rooms after they have playtime.
Monday: Laundry. I do all of the laundry this day.
Tuesday: General pick up. I pick up every single thing that is out of place in the house and put it away.
Wednesday: Dusting. I dust the house.
Thursday: Sweep. I sweep my floors. I have an entire floor that is hardwood, so it is a big job.
Friday: Bathrooms. I clean the Bathrooms.
Saturday: Floors. I clean the floors. I mop and vacuum. I will also do a general pick up this day so things are nice and clean for Sunday.
- Deep Cleaning: I would love it if I could deep clean more than I do, but I just can’t right now. I have a list saved on my computer where I have broken down deep cleaning tasks room by room. These tasks include reorganizing everything (where I take everything out of, say, the closet and put it all back, evaluating need for it. This helps you to remember what you have and helps you to organize things as you need them organized at the moment), cleaning floorboards, scrubbing grout, applying oil to wood, cleaning blinds and windows, washing all rugs and blankets, scrubbing garbage cans, etc. This doesn’t mean I never do these tasks at other times, but I have them on my list to do as I go through the room. I systematically go through each room, crossing off each task as I go. When I am done, I print a new list and start over. My goal is to do at least one deep cleaning task each day. I often try to do certain tasks at the same time as daily tasks where applicable. For example, Wednesday is my dusting day. Today is Wednesday. I plan to polish and oil all of the wood in my master bedroom today.
- Monthly Tasks: I also have tasks for each month of the year. These are seasonal. Some of them are the same as things on my deep cleaning tasks. For example, the month of March includes the task of cleaning all of the light fixtures in the house. Each room also has that task on its list for deep cleaning. Other examples for monthly tasks are scrubbing the deck, washing all windows inside and out, cleaning my jewelry, fixing all squeaky hinges in the house, and cleaning the driveway.
Those are some things I have done to make my cleaning life easier.
There is more to life than cleaning and working on projects. There are some things that are scheduled in each week. Here is what we have scheduled weekly:
- Monday: Family Home Evening. Each Monday night, we have family home evening. We sing hymns, have a lesson, read scriptures, and have prayers. We also have an activity that can supplement the lesson topic.
- Tuesday: Park Day. Each Tuesday during nice weather, a bunch of women and their children and me and my children get together at the park around lunch time. We bring our own lunches. The moms visit while the kids play. During bad weather, we will do other things on Tuesdays.
Working With Youth. My husband and I both work with the youth in our church. He works with the young men, ages 14-16, and I work with the young women, ages 12-18. Each Tuesday night, we each have activities with the young men and young women.
- Wednesday: Most Wednesdays of the month are free for us. Once night of the month I have a church activity with the other women in my church. Another night, we typically have other church service activities scheduled.
- Thursday: This varies during the year. Currently, I have choir practice and my husband has basketball games.
- Friday: Fridays are always busy, but with different things. We often go on a date night on Friday. Sometimes we get together with other couples and/or families.
- Saturday: Saturdays are also busy with similar activities to that of Friday. If we are home during the day, we work on projects around the house.
- Sunday: Church.
Here are some samples of my daily schedule and when I do what. This is obviously something that is very dynamic. I have to adjust with weather and also with what is going on. When I am in my first trimester, I sleep a lot more. When I have a newborn, not much else gets done :).
- 6:00 AM: I typically wake up at 6:00 AM. When I am in my first trimester or when I have a newborn who is yet to STTN, this is not the case. When I am not pregnant, I wake up and shower, and read scriptures. When I am pregnant, I wake up, eat, and read scriptures. I then make my bed before I get the kids up. That seems to be something I don’t do if I don’t do it in the morning. If there is time before it is time to get the kids, I will then either clean or check email–this depends on the amount of time and my physical state. When I am pregnant, I need to sit still for a bit after I eat.
- 7:30 AM: Right now, my kids get up at 7:30. In the summer, it is usually earlier, and when the new baby arrives, I currently plan on it being 7:00. They eat breakfast. Currently, while they do, I unload the dishwasher. Typically, I would eat breakfast with them. After breakfast, both children are required to help clean it up.
- 8:00 AM: My next free time of the day is sibling playtime. I currently will do my deep cleaning task OR my daily cleaning task, whichever I feel like. If I have something noisy I want to do (like vacuum), I will do it here. I then shower. After that, I will do more cleaning or do computer stuff if there is time–it depends on if I am feeling the need to sit or not right now.
- 9:00 AM: The kids take a bath. While they take a bath, I do my make-up and hair.
- 10:00 AM: Independent play for both kids. This is when I will sit and write a post and other blog stuff. I will also do some cleaning if needed during this time.
- 11:30 AM: Make lunch. While lunch is being made, I will pick up around the kitchen if needed. After lunch, we clean up lunch.
- 12:45ish PM: I start getting the kids toward naps. They both have to go potty before naps and it takes some time to do that and tuck them both in.
- 1:00 PM: Naptime starts. I then right now typically need to sit for a bit so I will do more computer things for a little bit. Then I start working on a project. It might be scrapbooking, it might be sewing, etc. Whatever I am working on at the time. I continue to work on things through the afternoon until all kids are up and my husband is home. I will make dinner in this time frame if I haven’t started it earlier in the day. We then have our evening activities. After dinner, the family helps clean it up, including dishes.
That is a rough outline of how I do what I do each day. Hopefully that makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions!
- sample schedules (blog label)